Baltimore Tough on Guns

By Peter Hermann, Baltimore Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore officials announced this morning a grant to fight “bad guys with guns,” the city police commissioner’s central crime fighting strategy. The Sun’s Julie Scharper covered the event and will have an update.

Meanwhile, here is the statement from the mayor:
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III, and Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger joined representatives from Johns Hopkins University to announce a highly competitive grant award to aid in Baltimore’s fight against gun violence. The $300,000 Smart Policing Grant, one of only six awarded in the nation, will fund Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) gun suppression efforts and establish the agency’s enforcement program as a national model of best policing practices.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Policing Grant will assist BPD’s Violent Crime Impact Section in arresting and convicting violent gun offenders through partnerships with state and federal prosecutors and the U.S. Attorney’s EXILE program.

“Reducing gun violence is our number-one public safety priority,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “This year, the BPD has arrested more than 700 individuals on illegal gun possession charges and seized nearly 1,800 illegal guns from city streets. With this additional support from our federal partners, we will continue to enhance our gun suppression strategies.”

“The men and women of the Baltimore Police Department have done a tremendous job putting intense, sustained pressure on criminals using illegal guns,” said Commissioner Bealefeld. “Year-to-date, non-fatal shootings are down 10% and overall gun crime is down 15%.”

For more details:
The Smart Policing Grant will also fund aspects of the city’s Gun Offender Registry which provides valuable intelligence to law enforcement agencies on the identity and whereabouts of convicted gun offenders. The Registry was created in 2008, and since that time the City has registered over 1,000 gun offenders. Today, there are 463 registered gun offenders living in Baltimore City being actively monitored by the Gun Registry Unit and patrol officers. Less than one quarter of the registered gun offenders have been rearrested on any change, and only 3% are non-complaint with registration requirements.

“We have an obligation to keep our neighborhoods safe. We must give law enforcement the tools they need to protect our families and our communities. This program will get illegal guns off our streets and help reduce violent crime,” said Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), a Member of the House Appropriations Committee.

The funding will also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of BPD’s strategy in reducing gun violence. The evaluation will be led by Dr. Daniel Webster with the Center of Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “I am excited to partner with the Baltimore Police Department to provide a scientifically rigorous evaluation of these innovative initiatives,” said Dr. Webster.

About the BJA Smart Policing Grant:

This 2010 grant announcement seeks to build upon data-driven, evidence-based policing by encouraging state and local law enforcement agencies to develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, or in a type or types of crime within their jurisdictions. This program is funded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The JAG Program (42 U.S.C. 3751(a)) is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.